Well, the title is a little misleading. Yes, we camped in the Boulder Mountains of central Utah, but the constant rain on the mountain had us a fleeing everyday down into the surrounding Escalante and Capitol Reef deserts.
A few months ago, I was asked to plan a scout trip for the local troop -- pretty much anywhere I wanted to go. I asked some of the boys and leaders if they had spent any time in the Boulder/Torrey area and got a typical response of, "uh ... where ... where's that?"
I considered this criminal. Sure, the Cedar City and St. George area where these folks grew up is about as spectacular as anyone could imagine, but nobody had been to Capitol Reef, the most underrated National Park? No one had fished one of the hundred trout-filled ponds dotting Boulder Mountain? No one had sunk their teeth into a perfectly-assembled Slacker's burger in Torrey? I couldn't believe it.
Plans were immediately put into motion and we spent a fun-filled 4 days in this amazing area during the first week of August.
The monsoonal rain that hovered over Boulder Mountain nearly the whole trip and struck the low deserts regularly caused a few problems in our schedule, but it also had its perks. I was pleasantly surprised to find this large waterfall spilling into Calf Creek out of a tiny unnamed tributary that drains off of McGath Bench. This typically dry waterfall (in photo above) was actually bigger than Upper Calf Creek Falls which is just out of view to the right.
Above: Upper Calf Creek Falls. Typically crystal clear, recent flooding had left the plunge pool full of silt and clay.
Below: scouts cool off in the murky plunge pool below the unnamed falls below Upper Calf Creek Falls.
Above: colorful mesas near Torrey provide a scenic backdrop as the boys try to earn their shotgun shooting merit badge.
The always impressive Hickman Bridge -- a big reward for such a short hike.
Above: Pectol's Pyramid, as seen from the Hickman Bridge trail.
The Fremont river was still flashing from all of the recent rain, making the plunge into Fruita Falls a little more exciting than usual.
Every kid needs to learn the proper way to catch lizards. This noose may look cruel, but it is by far the most harmless way to catch a lizard. If you catch a lizard by hand, you run a much higher risk of accidentally ripping off a tail or smashing it. We caught and identified lizards (several Desert Spiny, and 1 side-blotch) as part of the Nature merit badge.
Above: view into the Goosenecks of Sulfur Creek.
We're going clear down where?
The campout culminated with an extended hike down to the Escalante River and up Death Hollow. High water, huge climbs, bouldering, bushwacking, quicksand, hidden potholes, poison ivy -- the hike challenged everybody, and I'm sure no one will ever forget our little adventure.
I've seen a lot of quicksand in Utah's canyon country over the years, but not once have I ever seen anyone truly get stuck in the stuff ... until now. And I mean really stuck. I honestly don't think they would have ever been able to free themselves alone. It took three other guys digging and pulling for nearly an hour until the two most deeply-embedded scouts were released from the muck.
The trip was a success and we nearly fit in everything I intended to do. The road into Fish Creek Cove was washed out, so we missed the pictographs; but my biggest regret is that we never got a chance to fish any of Boulder Mountain's famous lakes. All of the 4WD roads into the high-altitude lakes were too muddy, and after just a few casts at Lower Bowns Reservoir, the skies opened up, and it was a mad dash to the trucks.
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